TQM & LOs LO11230

Tue, 3 Dec 1996 00:11:31 -0500

Replying to LO11222 --

John Zavacki wrote:

> But then again, so could BS 5750, ;ISO 9000, MIl-Q-9858. One problem with
> most standards based quality systems is that they are seen as a "quality
> system." Why do we need a "special" system to give us the results we would
> expect as normal? Then comes the notion of "third-party" assessment. The
> "system" is now at the whim of an assessor who may not have the foggiest
> idea of what is being done. Often, there is a bias for signatures, check
> sheets, complex routings, etc. which create bureaucratic nonsensicalities
> which neither improve quality not assure that products will be made well.

Here's a very interesting issue we ran into as we worked toward ISO 9001
certification. Section 4.5 of the standard says, in essence, we have to
control all the data used by our employees in the execution of their work.
This requires that we obsolete old information.

This was more than a small problem for our organization, because we
constantly create new knowledge, which is dynamically added to a database
of technical solutions. This database now has over 38,000 documents, with
detailed technical information.

So far there has been no method for obsoleting old documents, despite
repeated pleas from many engineers within the organization. Worse, there
has been no formal verification process by which the accuracy of the data
is checked. Since we have not had a verification process there is a lot of
duplicate information stored in the database. The result is what I'd call
chaos. But there is a certain sense of order, because people regularly
find solutions to their problems despite the chaos. (In fact, the
duplicate information, in some ways, helps ensure a solution is found.)

Finding information in the database is a real problem, because of all the
"noise" created by duplicate information.

Despite all of these problems, things work remarkably well. I have a
problem with 4.5 because it forces an organization to treat learning --
and the subsequent knowledge replication -- as a mechanical process. It
totally fails to account for the complex and unpredictable way in which
people learn and share knowledge. As we struggle to find a solution to the
problem of how to comply with section 4.5, I get progressively nervous. If
we make learning too tedious and beurocratic I'm confident that the amount
of information that will actually make it to the database will
dramatically decrease.

Given the choices, I'd rather have too much information, and a few peices
of inaccurate information, in the database than hardly any information.

Benjamin B. Compton

Learning-org -- An Internet Dialog on Learning Organizations For info: <rkarash@karash.com> -or- <http://world.std.com/~lo/>